Study Guide

Camille Paglia Quotes

When I cross the George Washington Bridge or any of America's great bridges, I think: men have done this. Construction is a sublime male poetry [...] If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts. [From Sexual Personae]

Look, we all know that men made these big structures. How many photos have you seen of women having their lunch on I-Beams as they take 5 from constructing the Empire State Building? Okay, so we're on the same page. Men are meant to build and develop skyscrapers and truss bridges and all of those enormous configurations of civilization.

So here's where I really tick the feminists off. Those "social constructionists" like to think that gender is forced on us by culture; I say we are born men and women because of—duh!—hormones. Women just don't have it in them to get out there, conquer nature, overcome the challenges of putting together a construction bridge or strategize some mass-transit system or 400-unit apartment building. I'm just calling it like it is.

Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination... Yet that cynical posture has become de rigueur in the art world—simply another reason for the shallow derivativeness of so much contemporary art, which has no big ideas left. [From Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars]

Intellectuals chap my hide for many reasons, but when they diss religion, I have to go in with full guns blazing. A lot of academics think they are above religion—that it's just a bunch of hokum thinking for the subintelligent—that religion is "low-brow."

Well, naturally I have a few things to say about this: first, where has this condescending attitude gotten us? A bunch of splattered paint on a canvas that we're supposed to accept as the new meaningful form of artistic expression. I say "Hell no" to that. Because contemporary art has become too cool for religion, it now gives us a bunch of feminist performance art or identity-based expressions that offer absolutely no deeper commentary about broader cultural or historical issues. You will never really get what a culture is about unless you study its religion—and that includes its sacred texts—Torah, Bible, Koran, or what have you.

Homosexual promiscuity is not in nature's best interest. Certainly not anal sex. Nature wants us to procreate. [From Playboy interview, May 1995]

Well, this one was sure to enflame. But who am I to mince words when I have valuable cultural commentary to offer the world? People are ready to jump on me for this comment, accusing me of being homophobic—but that just is not true. I am not making a moral judgment—I am a lesbian and some of my best friends are gay men.

What I am talking about here is plain and simple nature—an entity of force that cannot be fought. Nature wants what it wants and has its own drives and motivations. So I think it's pretty obvious that nature meant for men and women to be together and didn't intend or plan for the development of homosexuality. Don't make me get all graphic and give you an anatomy lesson. Look: we are supposed to procreate, have babies, perpetuate the species—that's doesn't mean we have to, but that's why our bodies are the way they are.

A woman cannot go on a date, have a bunch of drinks and go back to some guy's dorm room or apartment and then, when he jumps on her, cry date rape. [From Playboy interview, May 1995]

I make no bones about my attitude toward rape. I just get a little sick of people blaming men for rape as though women have absolutely nothing to do with it. Our culture has made women even more sexually victimized by creating all sorts of rules and laws around rape and then coming up with these crazy subcategories like "marital rape" and "date rape."

Feminists like to interpret rape as the man acting out the power structures of an aggressive "patriarchal" society—now that's a buzzword I hate. Well, I have a biological interpretation: men have hormones and they act on them. Now women have a part to play too—it's called sending signals.

I am so sick of false rape claims. Look, if you show your attraction to a man in all of these ways, ladies, you are establishing sexual expectations. So I say: Women—if you don't want to seduce a guy, don't go home with him. What were you planning on doing? Watching reruns of The Simpsons? Stop blaming men.